A Great Medical Scientist: Sun Simiao

 

 

Sun Simiao (581-682) was a great medical scientist of China in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). His native place was Jingzhao Huayuan (now Sunjiayuan in Hui County, Shaanxi Province).

 

Sun Simiao's viewpoint on medical ethics was very important in the history of Chinese medicine. In his Qianjin Yaofang (Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold), he put forward the notion of "good faith of a great doctor" for the first time, offering an all-round argumentation on the guiding rules of medical ethics a doctor must hold to. "Human life is of paramount importance, more precious than a thousand pieces of gold; to save it with one prescription is to show your great virtue." His book was named as "Qianjin Yaofang" (Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold), which was just a manifestation of such a noble moral character.

 

He gathered and studied the medical data before the Tang Dynasty, with reference to his own clinical experience of several decades, wrote Beiji Qianjin Yaofang (Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold for Emergencies) and Qianjin Yifang (Additions to the Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold), which have 30 volumes each and are collectively called Qianjin Fang (Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold). It is said that there is one volume of Zhenzhong Sushu (Precious and Secret Prescriptions), Shesheng Zhenlu (Advice on Sanitation), three volumes of Fulu Lun (Treatise on Happiness), one volume ofHui San Jiao Lun (Treatise on the Three Religious Schools), and one volume of Notes to Zhuangzi, Notes to Laozi, Canon of the Tortoise, Notes to Mingtang Charts, Canon of Master Sun, Golden Food Therapy, Xuannu Fangzhong Jing (Canon of Sex Art), and Jin Jing (Forbidden Canon), respectively.

 

Sun Simiao paid great attention to women and children's care and wrote The Prescriptions for Women in three volumes and the Prescriptions for Children and Infants in two volumes, which were taken to be the beginning of the Essential Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Pieces of Gold.

 

In pharmacology, he collected many empiric methods, used for processing, classifying and storing of drugs.

 

Sun Simiao's study on health care was very profound. He advocated putting prevention of diseases at the first place, stressed the importance of "restraining the desires to cultivate mental poise", "caution in speech", and "moderate in eating". All such ideas can serve as good reference for the present-day gerontology.